Amplify Health

7 Costly Misconceptions About Primary Care

Misconception #1: Primary care is simple and any “provider” can do it. 

Not true, at all. Family doctors go to medical school after a four-year college degree. And remember, medical schools only take the best of the best, and even then they try to weed many students out after the first year. After four years in medical school, the newly graduated doctors will do an additional three years of a family practice residency where they work up to 80 hours a week in clinical situations treating patients and learning. Why do they do this? It is because it takes broad expertise and training to manage things in primary care. Anyone can give a patient a stack of costly referrals and order lots of expensive tests, but a primary care doctor needs to coordinate all aspects of their patients’ care in order to get a complete picture of their health care needs

Misconception #2: Family doctors are just gatekeepers who manage referrals but not real medical conditions. 

Incorrect! A trained family doctor rarely refers out to specialists. He or she will work with the patient visit after visit to find an answer. Only when he/she feels he/she needs help in treating you will your referral be made. This happens only about 10% of the time on average. It takes a smart and confident doctor to admit when he/she needs help and a good family doctor will do that.

Misconception #3: All medical care, including primary care, is expensive. 

This is a myth. The right doctor who uses his/her well-trained ears, eyes and brain to find a diagnosis is not costly. Most of the time expensive tests and lab work are not needed. Also, when you work with a doctor and office that is cost conscious, like a direct primary practice, you will be amazed at the savings you will be getting. Most things like procedures, cryotherapy and skin biopsies, are free with your monthly membership fee. 

Misconception #4: If you don’t use a doctor who takes your insurance, it will cost you a fortune. 

Not true! Why are you letting insurance companies control which doctors you can see? Don’t give them that power! People will pick a doctor “in network” just because they think they will save money. The truth is that almost every visit will be $100-$150, plus a copay, with additional costs for any other tests (urine, strep, etc.). With a direct primary care doctor, your costs are fixed at a monthly rate and your labs are reduced. You can still work through your insurance with your direct primary care doctor, and in the end you just may save yourself a lot of money. 

Misconception #5: I don’t need a family doctor. I can just Google my symptoms. 

Wrong. Study after study has shown that the Internet is not the best place to get your answers. This just delays you from getting help from a doctor who has been through four years of college, four years of medical school and three years of residency training. If you were able to access your doctor as easily as you can access the Internet, then you would probably go that route. Direct Primary Care offers that accessibility and responds in a personalized manner with individualized recommendations. 

Misconception #6: Urgent care centers are a convenient and inexpensive alternative when my doctor is too busy to see me or is out of the office. 

Not true! Urgent care centers may be convenient but it is not better care. It is also not cheap. They only exist because your doctor has too many patients to care for. At urgent care centers they will not know your medical history and this often fragments your care and increases the risk for errors. 

Misconception #7: Labs cost the same no matter which office you go to. 

Incorrect! Some offices run their own labs in-house or they own free-standing laboratories. Many other offices outsource their labs by drawing blood and then sending the samples to companies like Quest or LabCorp. Those medical offices are charged a fee by Quest or LabCorp and then they charge you up to 10 times that amount to make a profit off you. If you have a large deductible, then that bill is out of your pocket. A basic in-house lab is usually included in your monthly membership at a direct primary care office. Additionally, most direct primary care offices contract with a lab for direct care laboratory costs saving you hundreds of dollars.